Botticelli is not an artist 🎨 I have spent much time with at all, so I went along to the V & A 🏤to discover some things about him in the Botticelli Reimagined exhibition. The museum is open until 10pm on Friday, well worth knowing ⌚️.
I initially had not realised that this really was Botticelli reimagined by everyone and anyone, and not just endless Madonna and childs 👼👸👶. There are 3 sections – they go backwards and start you with the most recent reimaginings – Andy Warhol etc 💛💚, then the pre-Raphaelites 👩, lots of Rossettti and then it’s all about Botticelli (there quiet a few Madonnas with multiple children. 👸👶👶)
Sandra Botticelli (1445 – 1510) was a Florentine painter 🎨and draughtsman and one of the most esteemed in artists at that time, he spent most of his life working for the Medici family 👑 and their acquaintances. He painted a vast number of paintings you are likely to recognise but might not know are his – the most well known being ‘The Birth of Venus’ 🐬and ‘Primavera‘ 🌸.
The exhibition is fun – the first image your are confronted with is Sean Connery, as James Bond 🔫 gazing at Honey Ryder 👙 in Dr No as she emerges form the sea 🏊. There people who have used the ‘Primavera’ 🌸and ‘Birth of Venus’ 🐬 in their work – there is a suit by Dolce and Gabbana 👘 made up of collage images form the ‘Birth of Venus’ 🐬. There are some truly bizarre pictures 🗾, and some where you have to really stretch your imagination to connect the image in front of you to Botticelli. They have lumped together images directly inspired by Botticelli (she’s naked and standing in a shell), to images that have later been attributed to have been inspired by him, (she’s almost naked and standing on a beach).
I enjoyed the second section, the pre-raphaelites – I like John Ruskin’s Zipporah, she is rather whimsical 👩, but I didn’t altogether connect them with Botticelli, although the paintings were certainly more tasteful that the images in the first section.
And then you reach Botticelli. There are many, and they are nicely displayed, and you do get a good sense of him as a artist 🎨. My favourite part was the discovery that he had made drawings for Dante’s Inferno 🔥- there are 5 ink drawings ✒️ depicting different parts of the journey – I am very pleased to have seen these. There is even an original recording playing of a slightly glum man reading the Inferno in Italian 🎶🇮🇹.
I think it would have been better if we had been given a bit more of a lowdown on Botticelli at the very beginning of the exhibition. They are pre-supposing you are very familiar with ‘The Birth of Venus’ 🐬and with the ‘Primavera’ 🌸and in many ways the exhibition could have been better connected thematically. The first two sections were interesting in themselves, but didn’t necessarily help me in my quest to get to know Botticelli as an artist any better.